Why is the White House allowing soon to be retired Senator Dodd to drive the entire financial reform discussion?

The Consumer Protection legislation and the derivative reforms are the sort of things that the President should be leading on — not following someone like Dodd. Why is the White House AWOL on these important issues?

Can someone please explain to me — in calm, non-biased, rational terms — just what is going on here?

Category: Politics, Regulation

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

55 Responses to “Where is the White House on Financial Regulatory Reform?”

  1. I am looking for serious answers to this regulatory process, and not an idiotic partisan debate.

    Off topic comments will be terminated with extreme prejudice.

  2. sainttjames says:

    Barry,

    Without having read what exactly Sen Dodd is writing – it strikes me that his imminent retirement is cover to write legislation that will later be deemed to be disadvantageous to the population and advantageous to the banksters. This will give cover to many – including the president.

    Americans need to wake up and realize that both sides of the aisle – Republicans and Democrats have been captured and the politicians no longer realize that they are PUBLIC SERVANTS.

  3. bonghiteric says:

    The eye is off the ball in this cycle. The healthcare reform push was the dominant issue for the last month. Recall that prior to the recent healthcare push they rolled the Volcker rule and as I’ve posted here before that was nothing more than theater. The administration is beholden to the financial industry lobby. It has also given too much creedence (in my opinion) to Bernanke’s idea that the banks must be saved at all costs or we end up with the Great Depression. The clincher is that all the individuals who had a guiding hand in creating the financial framework and regulatory capture leading to this mess are still employed and respected in Obama’s administration. It is crystal clear that Obama will never effect strong regulatory change the way all of us hope. If it looks like a tiger and smells like a tiger it is a tiger.

  4. cewing says:

    I’m not trying to be a smart-ass here, Barry, but to me this is an example of the Obama Administration treating Congress like an equal partner in the governing process designed by the Constitution.

    Over the last ten years we’ve become so used to the President being the “Decider” while the House and Senate function as rubber stamps, it now seems weird when Congress takes the lead on something. But that’s the way it should be.

    The President is the most powerful human on the planet, but even that person can’t do everything. A lot of this might be for show. But to me, it’s about time someone in Congress actually did some real work.

  5. Chz says:

    BR, you already answered your own question – a failure of leadership. Why? Incompetence.

  6. Mr.E. says:

    Obama has been outspoken on the need for financial regulatory reform since the middle of last year. An Administration white paper outlining the President’s advocacy points has been published
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/images/financial_reform_working_for_american_families.pdf

    I don’t see Dodds as driving the entire discussion. The Obama administration took their first step. It is now the legislatures turn. With the Presidents agenda on financial regulatory reform clear, it turns to the legislative branch to propose specific legislation. Dodds is the appropriate person to lead in the Senate because this is seen as primarily banking regulation and he is the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

    This is normal political process for Executive proposal followed by legislative process.

  7. krice2001 says:

    saintjames writes — “it strikes me that his imminent retirement is cover to write legislation that will later be deemed to be disadvantageous to the population and advantageous to the banksters. This will give cover to many – including the president.”

    I’m hopeful that maybe it’s the opposite of this is true. Maybe, since Dodd is retiring, he has the “luxury” of not worrying about his “backers” and can try to push through some true reform. As far as the White House not leading the charge, it is unfortuante but perhaps politically calculated. Having a retiring Senator be the point man does not put the Obama admin in a “vulnerable” position of offending a constituency with a lot of money. And lest’s face it after the recent Supreme Court decision that allows unfettered spending on campaigns by corporations, there will likely be even less bravery by politicians than before.

    A lot of Big Picture readers may like and hope for financial reforms but the “general population” can and will be swayed by huge spending by financial interests. They know it and the administration and every other policiian knows it. JMHO.

  8. Mr.E. says:

    I should have included this link .. White House webpage on Financial Reform
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/economy/financial-reform

  9. coley says:

    Is it really that hard to figure out? Obama is not a LEADER. Remember the Stimulus, Cap and Trade, Healthcare? His position is send me a bill, any bill, and I will sign it.

  10. YY says:

    Here is my view from DC

    1. This pattern of behavior is not unique to the financial reform, it seems to be prevalent to every single policy issue (health care, environment, foreign policy, etc.), there is a kind of lack of leadership at the top…
    whether by design 0r weakness it really does not matter, there will be consequences.

    2. The admin is not as cohesive as it appears, there seems to be multiple agendas that are neutralizing each other. Somehow it reminds me of Clinton’s first year and we know what 1994 brought. On financial and economic issues there is a deep divide between status quo and progress and the result is stalemate absent a tipping point. Where is a crisis when one really needs it…

  11. Moss says:

    Perhaps they are dragging their feet to get closer to the November mid-terms. Public opinion is very tilted toward some type of reform being instituted. Maybe like an ace in the hole to play as election trump card.

  12. red_pill says:

    they’re going to come down hard on the banks and have Dodd do it since he’s on the way out anyway. Obama doesn’t do the dirty work.

  13. flipspiceland says:

    The naivete or purposeful ignorance on this issue is beyond measure.

    TheBamster is in the pockets of Lord Blankfein, Jamie Dimon amongst other financial types who rule the world.

    What else do you need to know??

    How long do you need to debate what is right in front of your eyes day after day??

  14. super_trooper says:

    As a former junior member of the senate Obama trusts the extensive experince that Dodd has. He after all was driving the credit card reform act which ended up being weak, and that’s what we’ll probably sees here). I doubt Tim/Larry don’t mind a weak bill, so no need to put in more effort. They are busy with other bills and ehhh not let a respected senator take the lead on a bill that won’t challenge status quo. It’s the path of least resistance.

  15. lalaland says:

    cewing nailed it; also, wait until health care passes. That said, I think Romer, et al have been out there pushing. I think the administration is spending it’s time trying to unwind the turf battles between it’s regulators. Lastly, Democrats have an anti-business image (outdated as that may be) and it’s just as important not to overstep as it is to regulate properly; riding the populist tiger may not be the best idea in the long run…

  16. tawm says:

    Sorry, but I believe that the answer is politics — Dodd needs a legislative legacy to hopefully overshadow his corruption, and is thus allowed to drive the process, freeing the Prez to focus on HealthCare.

  17. constantnormal says:

    @ccwing 7:48 am — I believe you’re onto something. It is better to think of Obama as a “super-senator” than as an president who is trying to lead the nation. Look back at all his actions — there are only a very few acts of actual leadership among them, and when he was (predictably) assaulted by some faction or other, he withdrew from the limelight a bit.

    Now think about how a “super-senator” might behave in the White House. Lobbyists would be his most-favored constituents, and virtually nothing indicative of his actual personal beliefs/conduct would stand out.

    @krice2001 7:58 am — But what if Dodd (and Evan Bayh, as another example) are “retiring” only to pursue more lucrative post-senatorial careers as lobbyists? No more campaigning, no need to immerse oneself amongst the commoners every six years, but instead continue to travel within the same familiar (elite) circles, collecting the same (lifetime) benefits one had as a senator, and enjoying a greatly increased salary? Sounds pretty attractive, hmmmm?

  18. destor23 says:

    I think he’s shy about taking on a big lobby, especially given his health care experience and I think he’s also probably hearing from the usual suspects within his administration who are telling him that some of the new regs will slow bank lending and hamper the recovery. It might also be that this isn’t a huge point of interest for the President and never has been. Dodd has experience with the sector so why not let him lead?

  19. dead hobo says:

    It doesn’t matter who is in the lead on financial reform. It’s a foregone conclusion and a certainty that whatever gets done will be ineffective where it needs to be most effective. Wall Street will get exemptions for everything that puts middlemen in the most lucrative positions.

    Lobbyists will protect Wall Street with vigor and effectiveness. Commodities will remain overpriced due to speculative excesses and the role of commodity speculators who dabble with derivatives to hype prices will be specifically protected. Available credit will continue to flow towards junk purposes, rather than be directed towards activities that benefit main street. The Fed will continue to backstop the market to protect HFT and the greater fools who flip paper for a living.

    Main Street will be less than a footnote in the overhaul process. The emphasis will be to protect the interests of those who conflate financial flows with productivity. It’s not worth getting angry over because getting angry won’t matter. The fix is in, and it’s in so well that the fix is institutionalized in the process.

    On another note, a couple of idiot inlaws have convinced my 80+ year old relative to go with a new financial adviser. I have yet to tell my relative that the backstop offer is off the table due to an apparent gamb*ling addiction driven by desperation to get back prior losses. If my relative wins and doesn’t go broke from bad investing, then hooray for my relative and idiot inlaws. If the savings run out too early, sorry but I don’t care anymore. Maybe my idiot inlaws will provide the backstop.

  20. Whatever is going on was put into motion by the hopefully soon-to-be-fired Rahm Emmanuel. As the man advertised to be the one to execute the Obama plan, Rahm has frittered away time and political capital.

    Presidents should lead, period. Emmanuel has a president with wayyy above average intellectual and oratory skills, and has done very little with them. Given the weakest Senate Majority leader ever, it’s becoming clearer that Obama should have been out front whipping up public opinion and keeping idiots like Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and Blanche Lincoln more in line.

    That Dodd is “going it alone” says to me that the waiting game is on. I still think they’ll come up with something substantially better, once HCR has passed.

    The bad part is that they wasted so much time. The silver lining in that dark cloud is that given the proximity to the 2010 elections, passing this stuff will have a positive impact.

  21. clawback says:

    Fundamentally, Obama just does not understand any of this stuff. He defers to his “team” and we know who they play ball for. He’s personally and politically more invested in the health care bills and he just trusts whatever Geithner and Summers tell him. I don’t think there’s any mystery, here.

  22. constantnormal says:

    Obama is not now, and never has been, a “leader”.

    He gives a great speech, and is — like a lot of the rest of the senate — a bright fellow who is capable of serious intellectual thought and wrapping his mind around weighty matters (let me exclude from this the many very senior senators whose brains and ethics have been burnt out by decades of immersion in the morally corrosive atmosphere of Bananamerican politics). But when it comes to actual LEADERSHIP, he shies away from it, preferring the smoke-filled room and the muddy give-and-take of a room full or senators with strings attached, being operated as puppets by their backing lobbyists.

    We may get to see actual leadership emerge from the Great Moderator, but it will have to take a calamity that is a LOT bigger than anything we have seen to date to bring it out of him.

    I think that, like almost all his predecessors, a lot can be discerned about his modus operandi by the staff bubble he has constructed to isolate himself from the day-today reality. If you look to his “bubble” you can see his imprimatur upon it, in Rahm Emmanuel, Tim Geithner, Hillary Clinton, and Bob Gates. They are all doing exactly what Obama wants them to do. Note that none of them are proxies for the American citizen, they all represent some facet of the nation or national interest group (e.g., Geithner as a proxy for the financial community, warts and all).

    So to expect actual leadership from Barack Obama is setting oneself up for some significant disappointment.
    I came to this realization by way of such disappointment, and have no hopes or expectations that things will change over the remainder of his term.

  23. JSchmid says:

    I agree with sainttjames . Sen Dodd is taking credit for this legislation as cover for Obama. I would bet that Obama has helped craft the legislation but doesn’t want to be connected to it because it will benefit Democratic supporters and hurt the consumer.

  24. constantnormal says:

    @destor23 9:23 am …

    “I think he’s shy about taking on a big lobby”

    You mean as a client? I think not. Such has not been apparent anywhere in his track record. He LOVES big lobbies. Check out his support of virtually any corporate lobby, regardless of whether such support hurts the American people. He favors Big Government and Big Corporations, just as did his predecessor, and for most of the same reasons. The specific areas of bigness differ a bit, but the overall flavor is much the same. This is why people see him as the third term of Dubya.

  25. WFTA says:

    I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was hoping that some “bipartisanship” would break out between Dodd-Corker or Dodd-Shelby. Since half the current politcal calculation is to be anti-Anything Obama, leaving it to congress to create probably seemed the most likely to yield an outcome.

  26. destor23 says:

    @constantnormal: I guess this is the big issue with both parties. They all support some form of corporatism, maybe with slightly differing emphasis. The Democrats will give you government for big business and labor and the Republicans will give you government for big business and the religious right. Big Business is in both equations.

  27. Marcus Aurelius says:

    How do you discuss the politics of reform without discussing politics?

    What is going on here is politics, post Constitutional Republic. Once elected, the Unitary Executive is now beholden to no one but themselves and our crony/corporatist version of the Praetorian Guard — which is controlled by the right wing. Chief Executive is no longer a leadership position, but a figurehead put forth by those who wield the true power in our system (moneyed interests, including bankers, corporations, the military/industrial complex, and other entrenched players). Once elected, the chief executive must kowtow to those powerful interests or pay the price for trying to rock the boat. The status quo must be supported.

    This is not about leadership, it’s about appeasement.

    We all know about the criminality and cronyism engrained in our system, because those flaws are obvious to anyone with half a brain and a modicum of intellectual integrity. That said, we pretend to allow this shit, and they pretend to serve in the interests of the electorate. Those failing to toe this line are marginalized, or worse (Kucinich, Paul, Grayson, for example).

  28. TK says:

    I think it is a couple of things. First, his staff work is poor and overall network of contacts seems too small. Obama himself is just very deliberate. He thinks things over and sets up a process and it all just takes too long. His staff does not seem to expanded much past Axelrod et al. He is having trouble staffing his administration. He depends on Congress because his White House operation is mediocre.

    Third, Obama’s experience is more insular than is immediately obvious. Hawaii, Indonesia, Harvard and Chicago is each a sort of cocoon. His law practice, which can give a good perspective on business, was largely confined to civil rights and constitutional issues. I have often wished he had spent a few years in a true corporate practice where you get a feel for money issues.

    So what is wrong with Obama’s leadership on financial reform? He takes too long, and does not seem to have any real feel for financial issues and his key money people Geithner and Summers conversely lack any feel for populist politics. Come to think of it, Obama doesn’t either.

  29. ella says:

    The answer is the same for Financial Reform as for Health Care Reform…. Obama is a status quo President who believes that minor tweaks are all that is needed.

  30. jonpublic says:

    Too much going on. There seems to me more going on in the last year than in the entire second term of W. Hopefully once health care passes some of these other issues will get attention.

  31. lentils says:

    @constantnormal – I think your suggestion that Dodd has a personal agenda wrapped into his financial reform proposals is on the mark.

    In calm, unbiased, rational terms — I add that it is payback time for Dodd. Retirement triggers payback time. That is the way the political system works. President Obama is giving Dodd his due by allowing Dodd to lead on this issue.

  32. EAR says:

    Health care, Main St. economy, education, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.

    A lot on the plate. As important as financial reform is it isn’t as important to the overall population as it is to someone who would post a message on this blog.

    It isn’t important to many because many don’t have a grasp of what financial reform would mean. We’d like for more people to have a sense of urgency about the transparency of derivatives or the mitigation of TBTF entities but that isn’t the case. It isn’t supposed to be.

    From what I’ve seen O’s said as much as he can say about it to set a tone, but he’s not trying to pretend that he knows all there is to know about financial regulation and is deferring to those he chose to handle it. The problem is the people he chose see the banks as cathedrals. Does he share this view? To some degree, sure. I think it’s more that he believes, right or wrong, the system must remain intact to maintain America’s “competitiveness” and doesn’t want to be the one who, necessary or not, came in and tore the whole thing down in order to rebuild it. The immediate consequences of that would not have been ideal for a new president, he would have spent his entire term, and it would have been one term, dealing with those consequences rather than what he really wanted to.

    Dodd is on his way out. He will leave with a legacy if the reform is substantive, if not, if the WH is asking him to fall on the sword by going it alone with ineffective BS, he’ll leave in infamy.

    Or, considering the fact that he’s said this to the GOP…

    “If you want to work with me … we can do it. If you don’t, you can walk away or delay or say we shouldn’t be meeting. But if you’re interested in getting a bill, the door’s open,”

    … a hint of risk there, but it looks more like he wants his legacy to be turning the November tide in the Dems favor. Politics.

    I wonder if he’ll wear an “I heart the Fed” t-shirt at his announcement today?

  33. constantnormal says:

    So what is necessary for real, significant financial reform (or health care reform, or campaign reform, or …) to be enacted by the Congress and rubber-stamped into law by the White House?

    I think we’re going to have to go back to the brink, and probably some distance past it.

    The ensuing hail of politicians being ejected from their cushy lifetime jobs will motivate the rest to do what they have been elected to do — and that is not to dispense peeled grapes to the owners of hordes of lobbyists.

    Pain and grief is an ugly prescription, but it’s the only one with a proven efficacy.

    Buckle up, kiddoos, and stock up on the anti-depressants. Things have to get a lot worse before they can get significantly better.

  34. THANK YOU THOSE WHO KEPT TO THE TOPIC OF REFORM, AND NOT PARTISAN SQUABBLING

  35. Alex says:

    I would like to think its a matter of dragging one’s feet until we are closer to the mid-term elections, then dropping the bomb on the banksters before that time. And it does tend to make sense, to have Dodd and Volcker set fire to the bushes, to drive opinion toward more extreme measures. For awhile, it looked like Geithner / Summers were driving the bus (off a cliff), but with the PR problems both are facing, I think they are out of this one…at least publicly.

    At least I hope that is what is going on.

    If Mr. One Issue Obama fritters away six months on health care, the democratic party might as well just hand congress over to the Republicans at mid-term. It would also help if he would stop campaigning, and start effecting meaningful policy discussion in this area. Publishing a white paper about consumer protection (red herring…who cares!?), and having his staff contradict one another is not what I would call meaningful input when we are talking about steps to avoid the next financial crisis.

  36. DL says:

    If they can find a way to end TBTF, I don’t care who writes it.

  37. Bokolis says:

    It’s apparent that Obama has his eyes on healthcare and is fantasizing about history books. Is giving that Obama is misguided and weak- something you already know- as a reason biased? Obama’s not going to focus on anything until the healthcare issue is resolved. Perhaps he’d abdicate and take that post.

    It’s hard to proffer rational thought- rationalize the irrational- when there is no rational explanation. Saying that this is Dodd’s gold watch is pure speculation, but it may not be too far off.

    Whatever you think of gov’t healthcare, healthy folk aren’t worth as much if you can’t put them to work. Gov’t healthcare would be more useful after we run the unemployed folk into the ground by having them rebuild the nation’s infrastructure…I mean, as long as we’re spending trillions on bankers, what’s another $5T spent on ourselves (at, likely, a better ROI)?

  38. dussasr says:

    Other than being distracted by healthcare reform I honestly believe that President Obama is very weak on his understanding of finances. He can’t lead because he doesn’t know enough in that area to do so.

    Most politicians are only thinking about two things right now – healthcare and jobs. Healthcare is just a mess and the focus on jobs is too short term to get distracted with major structural changes like financial regulatory reform.

  39. Breezy says:

    Obama, it appears, gets direction inside the White House on economic issues from two separate groups. Content is supplied by Summers&Geithner, the politics is from others. We understand how hopeless it is to expect Summers&Geithner, who are compliant spouses of the Banksters, to give Obama the whole picture he needs. Thus, I suggest you ask, instead, why aren’t his political advisors steering him toward real reform. I suggest main stream media (MSM) are the culprits here.
    MSM is framing the debate wrong. They’re focused on a contest between slightly different versions of illusory reform paid for by the Banksters. They should be framing the contest as being between what is needed versus what is offered. For an example, see todays NY Times coverage of the Dodd Bill at the top of the business section.
    Barry, I applaud your good work pointing out how the WSJ and the rest are sanitizing the debate. Please keep up the pressure on reporters to frame the contest differently. Let’s ask and answer how we can get the political debate framed to appropriately frame the content debate accurately.

  40. Cynic_FA says:

    Barry,

    You ask why Obama does not lead on Financial Reform. The problem for most issues is that the dog (Pelossi and Congress) does not heel. IMHO the supermajority in both the house and the senate resulted in a frantic jumping around in congress like an untrained dog. Try to imagine the master giving orders and the dog jumping up and down and chasing out of control.

    You touched on Dodd’s retirement plans earlier in this column. We all know who offers the $100,000 speaking fees and the opportunity for $1 million annual salary. Sponsoring the tough legislation opposed by corporate interests is not a smart way to find a “Comfortable” retirement. I don’t have much faith in Dodd to get it done.

  41. torrie-amos says:

    imho, it is all about getting: re-elected

    a. save banks

    b. keep home prices up for taxes in state and muni

    c. pass some bills so you can point too victories, does not make any difference how good they are just so that they are somewhat factually proved by legislation

    d. hope for the best, fasb allows fraud until 2012 when cre will finally be gone, and hopefully banks are totally stable, and we have had enough job growth, and hope oil never goes about 100 dollars again

    worst outcome is oil spike, if it happens and he has passed some leg, he can plead market forces, i’ve done my job

    problem, imho, all folks agree americans will stand for no more bail-outs no matter what, so his plan is that this is a deep recesion and normal bus cycles will be at his back although lumpy

    risks are black swans, social unrest, and no job creation while folks unemployment get’s used up, and state and muni’s running into more problems, and mood remains sour even though the weather is nice

    as i’ve mentioned imho 85 oil kills all, if oil would fluctuate and settle around 80 for the next 3 years it would work, so everyone talks about a ppt, if there is one, they need oil donw, and an understanding with saudi that 80 oil is a gift for you also

    in congress imho it’s probably very messy, you probably have 1/3 of the folks who got massive favors done for there constituencts and were in on all deals, a 1/3 totally paralyzed, and 1/3 who are totally appalled more than ever at the hypocraccy…………………so it’s what happens with the 2/3′s who didn’t get the spoils, what will they do, we know the 1/3 will just do more and more and more, i imagine the 1/3 who are appalled will win some of the 1/3 who are paralyzed, yet, will they just run out of steam or get tired

    imho, all the bulls believe they can see it coming and get out in time, general public after two crashes will go berserk if we get a third, fool me once shame on you(nazz), fool me twice, shame on me (housing), fool me 3 times………..u mutha f’s said u knew what u were doing

  42. krizzleppp says:

    This is a Finance and economics blog. As such, the standards for evidence and reasoning is high for those topics.
    But when it comes to politics, we are armchair philosophers here. And it would be wise to temper our armchair philosophies with a little humility.

    Read this (http://mobile.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/magazine/14emanuel-t.xml) and speak softly as you do not know very well what you speak about (the commenters that is; Barry has a lot more understanding).

    Oh yea, and your question is answered in the aforementioned article mr. Ritholtz. Obama is letting the congress draft legislation because by letting the body that is going to reflexively criticize you draft the legislation, you excise some of the potential criticism (not all as we have seen). The current democratic [party] wisdom is that was one of the mistakes of the clinton healthcare effort, sending finished legislation to congress.

  43. Because no one has the courage to change things.
    It’s the same old garbage decade after decade.

    I voted for change I can believe in. I am so disappointed.

  44. advocatusdiaboli says:

    I don’t know for certain, but reading between the lines I have come to settle on the following scenario. The Democrats have been struggling for over a year now to deliver on key platform promises and there are growing concerns that they might lose their domination of Congress this Fall. After publicly calling out Banks and Wall Street for greed, Obama was chastened by their lobbyists in private and well as by key Democrats as they all watched Banks and Wall Street firms, who were even-handed by party in their political contributions last year, put close to all of their funds towards Republicans. The Coup de grace for Obama’s financial reform intentions was the corporate “free speech” Supreme Court decision–the financial industry now has unfettered funding as a political lever and I am certain made their intention to use it against him and his party to Obama. Obama raised his white flag as a test and publicly signaled his intention to surrender when he defended Wall Street and Bank bonuses as the result of a free market system. the battle is over, the peace accords singed in private, and the terms are favorable to the victors.

  45. wunsacon says:

    I agree with krizzleppp’s last paragraph (the “politics” angle) but unfortunately agree with all the other comments.

  46. RyeGuyPdx says:

    My two cents worth as a former US Senate staffer (many years ago) who had to handle negotiating executive branch sponsored legislation with the opposition as well as House staffers in conference: Obama’s ineffectiveness on REAL financial reform is of a piece of his actual distate for genuine politics. As others have commented, financial reform it is not that different from his administration’s handling of the TARP/stimulus packages and health care – he would just as soon outsource it and then spin almost any legislative outcome as a great success that redounds to his greater glory.

    Obama was not a very good Senator in actually negotiating tough legislation with the opposition and getting bills through. He didn’t really like the Senate that much and it’s why Harry Reid encouraged his run for President. Over most of the last year he also had the hubris of a President who thought he could count on a filibuster proof Senate. Kennedy’s death and Brown’s election changed all that.

    Obama ran a brilliant presidential campaign, but it was premised on him personally as a transformational figure in US politics, especially our troubled history in becoming a genuinely multi-racial society. He was going to be “beyond” politics. On health care, Obama gives countless speeches, but mainly to union members and university students. It’s the campaign all over again; it’s what he knows how to do. The recent Blair House health care summit was the FIRST bicameral, bipartisan meeting in over a year.

    I don’t like to admit it but real financial reform is going to be undermined by Obama’s demonstrated arrogance and narcissism. He works 16 hour days, but in actual fact he has been lazy in doing the real work.

  47. alfred e says:

    Constantnormal nailed it way up the thread. The crisis is over. Green shoots. Back to business as usual until the next leg down.

    The needed reform is not going to happen. Period. Until the next crisis. Or we start voting the bums out at every chance.

    Congress is an owned entity.

  48. The Curmudgeon says:

    What need is there for reform, when none of those to be reformed are bad? If you can’t fail, you certainly are doing something right, n’cest pas?

    This country has seen only a handful of leaders in its 200+ year history. So far, Obama’s not one of them. Of course true leadership requires a true crisis to test its mettle, and we haven’t had one of those since at least before Bush 41. From then on, all we’ve gotten has been political manipulators and managers.

  49. willid3 says:

    i am thinking its several things all working together. part one, the administration is suppose to propose it, but its supposed to be written by Congress. but thats not how it worked in the last administration (not right or wrong). its just the way it was done then and the Democrats don’t want to repeat operate that way (again neither right or wrong). and as some have noted it really is Congress that is suppose to do the work. there is also a bit of consern that moving to radically (or really get control of the banksters) will lead to a bigger mess (and that may have been fed to the administration by some of the O’s team that still believe in the methods that got us where we are!). so they got control of the equivalent of a plane in steep dive, and they don’t seem to want to pull to hard on the controls to correct that (probably some of the team members believe that doing that will cause the crash). and so far we have seen (in both parties) the lack of interest to really regulate the problems (some because they trust the business community some bacause they think it really did work before, inspite of any evidence to the contrary).
    i think our friend curmudgeon may have a point, but i think i would go much further back, like maybe the 30s. to see some one who lead (or was allowed to , and really forced to do so!)

  50. mgflaw says:

    I think Obama believes that if there is to be a compromise, it is going to be hashed out by the legislators, who have a strong sense of “turf” and prerogative. I think he believes that Democrats are not disciplined like Republicans, and that a Democratic congress has to go its 10 rounds before he weighs in behind passing the compromise they come up with. That opens O to being called a wimp, for not “leading the charge,” for sure. Certainly Clinton went the other direction in his first 2 years – and failed. Bush, of course, told his Republican congressional colleagues to jump and they (along with some Dems) said, “how high”. Not going to happen with Democrats.

    Let’s just see how this plays out. One must hope that his legislative surrogates are strong enough to advocate most of the essential elements of needed reform. Certainly, when Kennedy died we lost the strong surrogate in the health care debate. Baucus was a weak surrogate. That legislation never recovered.

    This is a messy process. And compromises end up giving us less than optimal results, as this one surely will. But, I believe at the end of this congressional session there will be a first step comprehensive health care reform package, a decent financial reform package as well as a real shot at a strong energy package placing a price on carbon.

    Regardless of whether you agree with the policies, if these are accomplished, one must tip one’s hat to Obama’s strategy for getting his incredibly ambitious agenda passed amid the most poisonous, nasty political environment that any of us have ever seen in this country.

  51. DeDude says:

    Some possibilities:

    1. They cannot move the spotlight from health care until it is passed, and they miscalculated how long it would take to do so. So the white house cannot begin talking about financial reform yet, although they are way late.

    2. The banksters are playing hardball and had their little sock-puppets in the supreme court declare that companies are persons with a right to “free speech”. With the majority of voters being idiots, this was basically a coup. The banksters can use their direct control of most media, and indirect control of the rest (via adds), to destroy any politician that crosses them. The one thing that any politician knows is to not start a fight that you cannot win. In our current idiocracy, where even informed people are swallowing stupid propaganda like “there is no difference between republicans and democrats”, they know they cannot win a direct confrontation, so they don’t get into it.

    3. The white house actually cannot be “leading” any debate unless our corporate media let them. Media decide what will get in the news and what will not get in the news. If our corporate masters decide to ignore everything that the white house does on a specific thing, it will look like they are doing nothing.

  52. Bruman says:

    I can’t imagine that Chris Dodd is pursuing financial reform entirely independently from the administration. Financial reform is a key administration priority from the campaign, and I think Obama does have this issue in mind, even if he is tied up in the wars and health care debate.

    I think it is more likely that Dodd is keeping some distance from the administration publicly in order to pursue a harder Democratic line, albeit with tacit approval from the administration. At some point, the fight will come to a head, with Republicans threatening to filibuster, and then Obama will come in and back some concessions and not others. A bit like good-cop, bad-cop, but Dodd and the administration have certainly been in some kind of quiet discussions to see where their agreements and disagreements lie.

    The challenge of course is that the fear of falling of the cliff has passed, and so it’s now fine to talk about how fiscal stimulus is completely irresponsible, when in fact the only counterargument to this is a counter-factual (what would have happened if we hadn’t had a big stimulus) that is very hard to prove either way. This tilts the playing field in favor of the conservatives, who want to argue that everything is more or less getting back to normal and therefore no regulatory changes are allowed, except maybe stuff that prevents homeowners from defaulting or walking away from their mortgages.

  53. mcnet says:

    I want to believe the Obama WH is hostage to the Clinton wing of the party (Summers, Geithner) and he’s too weak to fight them off.

    I want to believe he doesn’t honestly support the Rubinistas, but its a slim hope. Until Geithner’s shown the door I can’t decide if he’s merely obtuse, impotent or on board with Geithner, etc.

  54. philipat says:

    I put it down to a lack of management experience. It takes most of us a lifetime in management to understand the importance of focusing on a few things and executing well.

    Alternatively, he does see healthcare as the top priority and has been persuaded by Timmy and Larry that Financial reform is not that important.

    The sad thing is that the healthcae reform package does NOTHING to address the real cost issues in US healthcare. As usual, the Physicians and the Corporatocracy have prevailed.

  55. Lugnut says:

    “Why is the White House allowing soon to be retired Senator Dodd to drive the entire financial reform discussion?”

    Occams Razor sez its because when it gets co-opted by the financial institutions, and subsequently diluted, mangled and squashed, the person in charge of the legislation won’t be around anymore to rant about its failure.

    I’ve yet to see any solid evidence that the administration is serious about passing meaningful reform, have you?